LOUISIANA FOLKLIFE COMMISSION

The Louisiana Folklife Commission is appointed by the Governor to advise the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and other relevant state agencies on public policy to aid in the identification and preservation of traditional communities in Louisiana. To see the legislation creating the commission, see here

To see the minutes of the last meeting and the agenda of the next meeting, click here or go to the Louisiana Boards and Commissions database for more details and records.

 

Folklife Month

One of the key activities of the commission is Folklife Month, which recognizes the importance of the state's living traditions. For information about the current and past Folklife Month tradition bearers, click here.

 

Folklife Commissioners

* Legislative appointment category in parentheses. Click name for bio.

Chair

Teresa Parker Farris, Tulane University (University)

Vice Chair

Susan Roach, Louisiana Tech University (University)

Secretary

Mona Lisa Saloy, Dillard University (University)

Executive Committee

Ray Berthelot, Office of State Parks (State Parks)

Brian M. Davis, West Monroe (Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation)

Karen Leathem, Louisiana State Museum (State Museum)

John T. Sharp, Lafayette (Louisiana Folklore Society)

Commissioners

Sharon Calcote, Office of Tourism (Office of Tourism)

Conni Castille, Louisiana State Arts Council representative

Krystal Cox, Division of Historic Preservation (Historic Preservation)

Herman Fuselier, Opelousas (At Large Representative)

Tommy Ike Hailey, Natchitoches (Louisiana Folklife Society)

Rebecca Hamilton, State Library (State Librarian-ex-officio)

Jim Hogg, Prairieville (At Large Representative)

Vacant, Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve (Jean Laffite NHPP)

Susannah Johanssen, Louisiana Division of the Arts (Division of the Arts)

Shane Rasmussen, Northwestern State University (University)

Miranda Restovic, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LA Endowment for the Humanities-ex-officio)

Maria Rodriguez-Casillas, New Orleans (At Large Representative)

John Silver, Intertribal Council of Louisiana (Intertribal Council--ex-officio)

Maegan Smith, Division of Archaeology (Archaeology)

Kimberly Walden, Chitimacha Tribe (At Large Representative)

 

Bios of Commissioners

Ray Berthelot is the Parks Program Manager for the Louisiana Office of State Parks and has served in this capacity for more than twenty years. In this position, he oversees educational and interpretive programming representing the natural and cultural resources preserved by the State Parks system. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member with Baton Rouge Community College where he teaches a course on Louisiana History. Originally from New Orleans, Ray previously worked in the Archives Department at Xavier University of Louisiana where he also functioned as the Co-production editor of Xavier Review Press. He holds an M.A. in History from Louisiana State University and two B.A.s, Political Science and History, from the University of New Orleans. Ray serves on the executive committee of the Louisiana Folklife Commission.

Conni Castille has written, directed and produced several award-winning documentaries on Cajun and Creole culture that have been supported by the Louisiana Division of the Arts and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. The films have aired on Louisiana Public Broadcasting, and screened in the U.S., Canada, France, and China, and at numerous film festivals including Cannes and Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. Awards include Louisiana Filmmaker Award, and Humanities Documentary of the Year in 2012 from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities for T-Galop. She continues to produce documentaries while mentoring students creating non-fiction projects at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Sharon Calcote has served the tourism industry for 30 years. Sharon spearheads the Louisiana Byway Program for the Louisiana Office of Tourism. Additionally, she is a researcher, grant writer and develops tourism product - her latest project is the Louisiana Civil Rights Trail. She has been nationally-recognized for pioneering new tourism product development techniques that helped the tourism industry concentrate more on stories than sites. Her focus was the "peopling of the process." She believes that when the stories of the people are told, the sites and attractions make sense. She works extensively with rural areas and conducts community assessments, strategic planning and project development. Sharon has served on several state and national boards and commissions, including the Ancient Indian Mound Trail Advisory Committee, Louisiana Folklife Commission, National Park Service Lesser Known Sites Advisory Task Force, Cane River National Heritage Area Commission, and National Association of State Development Agencies Tourism Advisory Board, among others.

Krystal Cox has been with the Division of Historic Preservation since 2014. A historian who served as a tax credit reviewer within the Division for five years, she currently manages the Hurricane Harvey Emergency Supplemental Historic Preservation Fund grant and assists in reviewing nominations for the National Register of Historic Places. Krystal holds an M.A. in history and a B.A. in Communication from Southeastern Louisiana University.

Brian M. Davis is the Executive Director of the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation. He grew up on a farm in Ouachita Parish and, after receiving his B.S. in Architecture from Louisiana Tech University, worked in architectural firms in the Houston/Galveston area. His experience in the non-profit world began as a volunteer at the Galveston Historical Foundation, where he later served as Director of Preservation Services and authored Lost Galveston. He served as Executive Director of Historic Salisbury Foundation in North Carolina for several years, before returning to Louisiana. Today he works from his grandparents' 1920s farmhouse, which he restored, to provide field services to owners and historic buildings in all 64 parishes. Brian serves on the executive committee of the Louisiana Folklife Commission.

Teresa Parker Farris is an interdisciplinary scholar at Tulane University where her research focuses on the history, art history, and cultural traditions of the American South. Her public folklore work includes production of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival's Louisiana Folklife Village and the three-year documentary initiative, The Elders Speak: The West Feliciana Parish African American Oral History Project. Her essays have appeared in UNC-Chapel Hill's Southern Cultures journal; the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture; the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities' 64 Parishes Encyclopedia and A Unique Slant of Light: The Bicentennial History of Art in Louisiana; as well as numerous museum exhibition catalogues. Teresa holds an M.A. in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi and a B.A. in English literature from Haverford College in Pennsylvania. Teresa serves as chair of the Louisiana Folklife Commission.

Herman Fuselier is Executive Director of the St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission. A longtime journalist covering Louisiana music and culture, he has produced work featured in publications such as the New York Times and Offbeat magazine as well as on media outlets NPR, BBC, and CNN's "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown." He is author of Ghosts of Good Times, a book about southwest Louisiana's disappearing dancehalls. An Opelousas native and journalism graduate from Louisiana State University, Herman hosts the "Zydeco Stomp," a weekly radio program of zydeco, blues, and classic R&B on Lafayette's NPR affiliate station, KRVS 88.7 FM and www.krvs.org.

Tommy Ike Hailey, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Archaeology and Anthropology at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. His academic interests, research, teaching experience, and publications focus on human culture and biology, both past and present. His areas of emphasis include the historical archaeology of the Caribbean and the American Southeast, as well as geophysical and remote sensing investigations of archaeological sites. He is a historian and genealogist by inclination, with an interest in the social history of rural North Louisiana and the Florida Parishes, and a songwriter in practice, assisting in the development, coordination, and presentation of a number of songwriter festivals and events in Louisiana and Mississippi. He earned his Ph.D. in Anthropology with a concentration in Underwater Archaeology from Texas A&M University, and his B.A. in Archaeological Studies from The University of Texas at Austin.

Rebecca Hamilton is the Assistant Secretary of the Office of the State Library and State Librarian of Louisiana, a position she has held since 2005. Rebecca works with the state's 350 public libraries as well as with agencies and individuals in both the private and the public sector and at all levels of government to improve library services to the people of Louisiana. Rebecca is considered an expert on disaster response and recovery for libraries and has spoken nationally on this topic in addition to contributing to both professional library journals and emergency response publications. Her office produces the nationally recognized and award-winning Louisiana Book Festival held annually in Baton Rouge.

Jim Hogg is the CEO of media firm Jim Hogg Group LLC, a culmination of his 30 year career in radio, television, and outdoor advertising. He is also a country musician and songwriter with eight albums to his name and today plays with his son, a one time Louisiana State Grand Fiddle Champion. Every Sunday morning Jim hosts the syndicated roots music radio program, "Sunday Morning in Hogg Heaven."

Susannah Johanssen is executive director of the Division of the Arts.

Karen Leathem, a historian at the Louisiana State Museum for eighteen years, has researched and developed a broad range of exhibitions on Louisiana history and culture, including Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond. Her publications include essays in New Orleans Cuisine: Fourteen Signature Dishes and Their Histories and Louisiana Women: Their Lives and Times. A native of Kaplan, Louisiana, Karen holds a Ph.D. in American History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.A. from Louisiana State University. Karen serves on the executive committee of the Louisiana Folklife Commission.

Shane Rasmussen. Ph.D., is director of the Louisiana Folklife Center at Northwestern State University.

Miranda Restovic is President and Executive Director of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the Louisiana affiliate to the National Endowment for the Humanities. She previously served as LEH Deputy Director, as well as Director of the LEH's award-winning and nationally implemented PRIME TIME Family Reading Time program. Under her stewardship, the LEH has initiated projects including the quarterly publication 64 Parishes; the PRIME TIME Sustain reading series exploring the effects of Louisiana's changing coastline; and, in partnership with The Helis Foundation, the John Scott Center, a community space and interactive museum. Miranda holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of New Orleans and a B.A. in International Relations and Italian from Mount Holyoke College.

Susan Roach, Ph.D., serves as Director of the School of Literature and Language at Louisiana Tech University and holds the Mildred Saunders Adams Endowed Professorship. With a Ph.D. in folklore from the University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.A. and an M.A. in English from the University of Arkansas, she was folklorist for the Louisiana Regional Folklife Program at Louisiana Tech University from 1998-2009, and continues fieldwork on north Louisiana folklife. She has curated museum exhibitions and state and national festivals and served as an editor and author for Delta Pieces: Northeast Louisiana Folklife and The Louisiana Quilt Documentation Project. Other publications include museum catalogs—Gifts from the Hills: North Central Louisiana Folk Traditions and On My Way: The Arts of Sarah Albritton—and essays in Public Folklore, Women's Culture, and the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Susan serves as vice chair of the Louisiana Folklife Commission.

Mona Lisa Saloy, Ph.D., is an award-winning author & folklorist, educator, and scholar of Creole culture in articles, documentaries, and poems about Black New Orleans before and after Katrina. Currently, Conrad N. Hilton Endowed Professor and of English at Dillard University, Dr. Saloy documents Creole culture in sidewalk songs, jump-rope rhymes, and clap-hand games to discuss the importance of play. She writes on the significance of the Black Beat poets—especially Bob Kaufman, on the African American Toasting Tradition, Black talk, and on keeping Creole to today. Her first book, Red Beans & Ricely Yours, won the T.S. Eliot Prize and the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award. Her collection of poems, Second Line Home, captures New Orleans speech, family dynamics, celebrates New Orleans, the unique culture the world loves. Saloy's screenplay for the documentary Easter Rock premiered in Paris, the Ethnograph Film Festival and at the national Black museum. She's lectured on Black Creole Culture at Poets House-NYC; the Smithsonian; Purdue University; the University of Washington; and Woodland Patterns Book Center. Her documentary, Bleu Orleans, is on Black Creole Culture. She is an editorial reviewer for Meridians: Feminism, race, transnationalism. Most recent publication of verse: "New Orleans, a Neighborhood Nation." I am New Orleans, anthology. Kalamu ya Salaam, editor. University of New Orleans Press, 2021. Mona Lisa Saloy writes for those who don't or can't tell Black Creole cultural stories. www.monalisasaloy.com Tweet to @redbeansista.

John "Pudd" Sharp is the Assistant Director for Research at the Center for Louisiana Studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Treasurer of the Louisiana Folklore Society. His research focuses on the history, cultural traditions, and coastal issues of Louisiana. His work includes documentary film "Water on Road: The Disappearing Community of Isle de Jean Charles" and statewide documentary project "Louisiana Dance Halls." Pudd holds an M.S. in Communication from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a B.A. in Religious Studies from Auburn University. Pudd serves on the executive committee of the Louisiana Folklife Commission.

Maria Rodriguez-Casilla is organizer of Krewe de Mayahuel, New Orleans' only Mexican Mardi Gras Krewe, which was inspired and created to promote and incorporate Mexican culture in New Orleans. As immigrants, they believe that knowing each other will allow for people to accept them as part of the community.

John Silver is director of the Intertribal Council of Louisiana and serves on the United Houma Nation tribal council. He is from the community of Dulac.

Maegan Smith is the Outreach Coordinator for the Louisiana Division of Archaeology, where she develops, implements, and manages initiatives to educate the general public about Louisiana's archaeology and cultural heritage. Maegan has an interdisciplinary background in cultural anthropology, geographic information systems, and public/applied archaeology and history. Maegan's BA is a double major in Anthropology and History from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, including archaeological field experience from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Research Laboratories of Archaeology. Maegan holds an MA in Public History and a Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Kimberly Walden serves at the Tribal Historic Preservation Office for the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana in Charenton, Louisiana. She also directs the tribe's Cultural Department. With Rosetta Stone, they have been reviving their language and teaching it to tribal youth. She has a Masters of Education.